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Addressing the Dangers of Distraction

Oct. 26, 2020
Mobile devices can be a powerful tool for contractors, but can also be a contributing factor in workplace accidents.

By Pete Plotas, VP Global Alliances and Business Development, TRUCE Software

Mobile device distraction in the workplace is on the rise and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. This is an issue for many industries—particularly construction. In a JBKnowledge 2019 report, more than 90 percent of the construction industry was found to rely on smartphones to help employees at different sites throughout their day to capture key workflow, project management and reporting information. Add distractions from mobile devices to the equation and the opportunity for accidents, incidents and negative outcomes becomes significant.

Let’s face it, personal devices are unavoidable on the job site, but they do come with high risks if not used correctly. For the construction industry, mobile device distractions are responsible for a significant number of yearly claims and losses that can greatly devalue an organization. Over the past several years, Old Republic Contractors Insurance Group (ORCIG), a producer focusing on specialized insurance coverages and services for trade contractors and large construction projects, has seen the effects of rising injuries and claims within the construction industry. What’s contributing to these risks and losses? Mobile device distraction linked to work-related driving is a major culprit.

To help fight these distractions, many insurance carriers are looking at data taken from safety tech solutions for more insight. This type of data has helped ORCIG loss prevention teams advise their insured companies on best practices to reduce loss exposure. Plus, there’s an obvious contrast in companies that protect their workers with distracted driver solutions and those that do not.

An ORCIG analysis of four years of customer data found that companies that invested in driver protection solutions had 33 percent fewer accidents than those without any solutions in place—a cost savings of nearly $3.4 million. What’s more interesting, this reduction in costs was gained even though the same protected companies had 6 percent more vehicles on the road. The findings clearly point to the benefits and rising need for smart solutions that result in smarter mobile usage.

Although many companies depend on telematics and dashboard cameras to identify risky behaviors behind the wheel, these methods simply watch drivers’ actions and then react to an incident. This means businesses are forced to monitor and enforce their driver responsibility programs themselves – an unnecessary time drain. What’s more, if a company is merely responding to accidents after the fact, they most likely aren’t fully aware of the extent of their mobile device distraction problems.

On the other hand, businesses that use a proactive mobile management solution can help reduce mobile device risks before an accident occurs, preventing claims, liabilities and losses that come from mobile device distractions. Point blank, construction companies need smart mobile solutions that can carry out their mobile device policies. This includes monitoring:

·      All employees, across all job functions

·       All types of devices, from handheld to hands-free

·       All work zones, while driving or using heavy equipment

Fortunately, there’s technology that exists to make mobile devices smarter, which can guarantee safe mobile device usage while workers are behind the wheel. Without having to block cellphones or cutting off network access, companies can manage how their employees use mobile devices in a smart way so that policies are enforced by employee, device job function and work zone.

Ensuring smart mobility shouldn’t reduce an employee’s ability to use workflow apps, especially as businesses use more workflow and communication apps during COVID-19. Instead, smart mobility should improve employees’ access to the technology they need to get their jobs done while eliminating disruptions that can lead to accidents on the road. A solution that turns employees’ devices into an automatic switch allows companies to tailor their mobile use policies to contextual indicators such as movement – this is known as Contextual Mobile Device Management (CMDM).

With the ability to know when an employee is behind the wheel of a vehicle, CMDM consists of an app on the employee’s mobile device, a dashboard management console, and a beacon. The beacon helps the software identify environmental factors (the context) to guarantee the employee’s consent to the company’s mobile device policy without taking away their access to the apps they need. For example, employees travelling to the job site can use apps for directions but can’t send texts while the engine is on. Once the CMDM app detects the engine is off, the mobile device returns to normal. CMDM also eases concerns over privacy, as it only manages applications and device capability and does not track the employee’s location, the apps they’re using, or any personal data.

According to ORCIG data analysis, when a driver safety solution is in place, an average of $875,000 per year is saved from fewer claims, losses and payouts. This leads to the potential of even greater loss reductions when taking into account the costs of possible injuries and fatalities from some of the prevented accidents. And while the financial benefits of eliminating distractions are undeniable, the improved efficiency and reduction in business risk in just as impactful. The safety and productivity of all employees is important for companies to perform on time and within budget.

Pete Plotas is driven by a passion for disruptive and innovative technology, which has fueled him for over 20 years to connect people and companies all over the world. At TRUCE Software, he works with enterprise businesses, major insurance and telecommunication companies across the globe to forge strategic partnerships, channels, and alliances to combat mobile distractions within the workplace. His work spans the early days of B2B marketplaces helping to change how buyers and suppliers interact, into today’s cloud software age enabling customer experience and education tech. From start-ups to enterprises, Pete has developed partner ecosystems that have created customer value across six continents.

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